Date: May 1, 2006
To: Abilene High School 19961 class members
From: John Odam
Subject: THE ABILENE BOOK PROJECT
Also posted @ http://www.johnodam.wordpress.com and go to Book Project Page for information.
First, let me say thank you to Michael Grant for this great idea and for agreeing to be the editor of “the book”.
Also, thanks to Ray Finfer and Oran Logan for agreeing to help on the business end of publishing and distribution. As you will see, I am pretty excited about this project: Our AHS Class of 1961 working together from points across the United States and some outside of it, to leave behind as our legacy. Right now all we each have are our friends and memories from the growing up in Abilene in the 1950s. At some time, both memories and friends will be gone. But with this book, we will literally leave something behind for our children, grandchildren and future generations. Something about “the age of innocence”: What it was like to grow up in a West Texas town named Abilene. A book of essays, if you want to call it that, of Abilene, Texas in the 1950s. Mike Grant will be putting out something in detail about the actual writing process and how we can pull this together, but I couldn’t wait to put in my two cents. This book is possible, be assured of that. It is doable (if there is such a word), not only from the writing end but also all the way to the sales end.
Here’s a little about that. As Mike says, we are participating in the 4th revolution, the information technology revolution. Just think of it, 200 people around the world, literally are reading this…(Karen Wiggins in Africa). You will write what you want and save the document in your computer. At some point, you will e-mail it as an attachment to Grant in San Diego, CA and get it cleaned up for publication. He will work with you on the editing process. When all of the pieces are ready, we will send it electronically to a print on demand (p.o.d.) publisher. More about that later. Only the number that we want will be published and shipped somewhere. Thus, cost will be as low as we can get it. Best of all, the book will be available to purchase on line. For example, you will be able to order through http://www.amazon.com and other websites. Bookstores around the world will be able to order it. We will only have printed what we need so there won’t be some inventory under someone’s bed or in the garage rotting away.
How to pay for it? My thinking now is that the contributors underwrite the printing expense based on the word count or page count. That is, the more your write, the larger your financial underwriting: Don’t write a lot, don’t pay a lot. We think we can get it placed through the Abilene Historical Society and coordinating with the AISD and AHS. We may try to get a grant for the publication also.
Where does the money go from the sales? Not to the contributors, unless we agree to that to the extent of hard costs reimbursement for the publishing costs. Consider it a labor of love. One idea is that the money goes to our “flower fund” for future funeral services of our classmates. That part of it is way down the line… the first thing is to get volunteers to write, write, write. That means YOU.
We have about 200 classmates on this e-mail list. Thus, we have the opportunity to have that many contribute to this project. If you can think, if you can remember, if you can even sort of type, you can contribute.
AND best of all, you will have the benefit of a great editor in Mike Grant working with you all the way. As you may know, Grant is a true professional: A journalist, newspaper reporter and columnist, an author of books, a college professor on writing, a blogger, (www.michaelgrant.com) … what more could you ask for? AND, it is free to you.
DATA DUMP: I took a writing course several years ago. (I know, you can’t tell it). I had a great prof and one concept he discussed was “data dump”. What is that? First, one can find the time every day to write for a certain period time, be it 15 minutes, 30, an hour or more. Second, just create a document containing your memories and just write away. Don’t initially worry about it being the final product; just get your thoughts down “on paper”. Print it out if you want, but just dump your thoughts, the data, into the computer and save them.
The next day, open the document, read and polish what you did the day before. (Save it to your desktop for easy access) That will provide you the ideas to “dump” more into the computer. You can worry about the organization and whether it makes senses, whether you will use it later. Just get it down on paper.
Now, what are you going to write about? Mike’s concept is the grade school years, possibly one year, say 1953 or 1954. More from Mike on that later. I know that some of you were not in Abilene during the time. Write anyway. Write about where you were during those years. It will be interesting to see how it compares with the Abilene memories. There should be a place for all. We need all of you.
WORDS AND PHRASES TO GET YOU STARTED (in no particular order): Four years ago, someone sent me an e-mail to the effect, “you must be from Abilene if you remember X…” I forwarded it to the class list and over the course of a week or so we had about 50 e-mails covering a multitude of subjects. Having reviewed all of these, below I am giving you some food for thought as to what to write about… to get you jump started. You don’t need to write your memories or stories to me… save and write your ideas to submit to Grant.
Think of the movie, “A Christmas Story”, where the little boy wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas and gets his tongue stuck on the freezing light pole. You know the one.
First, think of the 5 w’s: The who, what, when, where, why. And the senses: smell, taste, hear, touch, see and the sixth sense of emotions, feelings. Feelings: loves, hates, likes, dislikes, etc.
Grade school, classmates, teachers, boy/girl friends, first? Those hot and cold class rooms, hardwood floors, radiators, those wooden desks, attached to each other on a frame.
Neighborhood, street names, school mascots… e.g. Valley View Panthers, Alta Vista Roosters. School sports, choir, church choir. Weather, tornadoes, C.E. Schlitzer (sp) on the radio, scrapping ice off the car windshield, hot weather, freezing weather. Mike suggests writing about your neighborhood, i.e. elementary school, and working out from there. Maybe this is a way we will organize it, along with city maps and photographs.
Piano lessons, Fair Park, the zoo. The Big State Jamboree; wrestling, Gorgeous George. AHS football games on Friday night, junior high games on Thursday night. Country club, ballroom dance lessons, folk dancing at grade schools.
First deaths in the family of grandparents and feelings about that. Going to the movies on Friday night, Saturday mornings, the public library; the western movies, the serials. Tickets for 5 cents, nine cents, a quarter. The radio shows, Lum and Abner, Sky King, Sgt. Preston, the Green Hornet, The Shadow, etc.
Television? KRBC. Dub and Larry, local programming, Crusader Rabbit, Kalvin KeeWee, Slim Willet and “Don’t Let The Stars Get in Your Eyes.”
Learning to ride the bike.
Going downtown to Paramount, Majestic, Queen, Texas, Linda, State, Metro (for the south side kids).
Window shopping at Minter’s, Grissom, Thornton’s. Going to see the Christmas window at Thornton’s and the x-ray machine of the feet in the shoe department.
The big hotels, Wooten and Windsor. T&P railroad. Going to View to catch the north /south train. Airport? Riding the city bus around town. The three colleges.
After school activities. Abilene Blue Sox. Mrs. Baird’s Bakery, (those miniature loaves of bread with butter on them) real country music, KRBC, KWKC. The beginning of rock n roll; Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the dirty bop. Hoop skirts, a hundred petty coats. Lip stick for the first time. Camp Tonkawa, Abilene State Park and the freezing cold swimming pool.
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies, Cubs. Hunting, fishing, Fort Phantom. Petroleum Club, Charlie Blank’s. Loawkie (sp). Bootleggers. The Bluebird Café, Dixie Pig, Mrs. Brown’s Boarding House, the Drake Hotel, Zick’s News stand. The east/west streets all numbered and the north/south streets named after trees —- most of which were not even near Abilene.
Family autos: Studebaker, Ford, Chevy, Nash Rambler, Hudson. All unairconditioned.
The Chicken Shack…. Jerry Lee Lewis…. ACC Hill. School safety patrol.
Think “DAD”… description of people, places and things; Action for your action and that of others; and Dialogue, yours and others. Use the places and things in a story or stories.
Camp Barclay. Gandy milk and Gandy points. The Western Parson, local TV show. Dean Beard and the Little ???. Petty coats, Levi’s and boots and high top black tennis shoes. The Guitar Mansion. The drive-in movies: Tower Twin, Park Drive-in, Crescent. Playground up front.
Flooding under the railroad tracks in the underpasses. Seeing Santa @ Mrs. Baird’s. Saturday morning “kiddy shows” and the afternoon westerns with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tom Mix, Tim Holt, Johnny Mac Brown, Wild Bill Elliot, Lash LaRue, Whip Wilson (live!), yo-yo contests. The “cave” under the Fair Park auditorium.
Life, like TV was black and white and pretty simple it seemed. “Charm class” “Little Dee-Don” on the Slim Willet Show. Wahoo McDaniel, the wrestler. “On the Farm” with Harry Holt.
Going to Cisco to go swimming. Gigging for crawdads in Catclaw Creek or Elm Creek. Riding the Shetland pony at Fair Park. Milk bottles delivered at the door. Borden’s Dairy, Banner and Longhorn. The Lone Ranger on the radio. Foremost Dairy.
College Heights Mustangs, Fannin, North Park, Bonham, Travis, Houston, Bowie Bobcats, Alta Vista Rooster, Valley View Panthers, Lamar, Fair Park Indians (?), Crockett Crocodiles, Central.. mascots?
Dr. Lindley’s Animal Clinic at the edge of town. Mack Henson Groceries. M-System, Safeway.
You get the picture. Happy writing. At the blogsite, you can add comments. Thanks for your attention. JO (of Valley View)